The Kanawha (West Virginia) Circuit Court is seeing yet more asbestos litigation as Roger Broughton and his wife Sally both file suit in a case that names fifty-one different defendants. The exposure to asbestos that resulted in Broughton’s lung cancer occurred over the course of a forty-year career servicing railroad locomotives for Armco Steel, Inc. The nine-count suit, filed on 17 August, claims that manufacturers of the asbestos products had full knowledge of the health hazards of asbestos and deliberately failed to provide adequate warnings; furthermore, Broughton alleges that Armco management knew that employees would be exposed to asbestos dust yet failed to provide proper training or protective equipment.
Prior to the 1980s, asbestos insulation was applied to virtually all industrial and commercial machinery in situations where heat and fire was a hazard. While generally “solid” when newly installed, such insulation was prone to becoming crumbly as it aged, releasing millions of fibers into the air. In this state, asbestos is called “friable.” Investigative journalist Michael Bowker has thoroughly documented the corporate conspiracy to suppress health information about asbestos in his book Deadly Deception. Although this book, possibly the definitive work on this subject, does not specifically mention Armco, he makes it clear that the conspiracy of silence was widespread throughout the asbestos industry. Roger Broughton is seeking compensation for physical pain and mental anguish, humiliation, inconvenience and loss of quality of life. In addition, because of the dysfunctional for-profit health care system in the U.S., Broughton is forced to seek compensation for medical expenses as well. His wife is seeking compensation for loss of financial support and loss of consortium. In addition, the couple is seeking an unspecified amount in punitive damages. The case will be tried by a jury and presided over by a visiting judge. Roger and Sally Broughton currently reside in Ashland, Kentucky, about forty miles from Charleston, West Virginia, where the complaint was filed.